Scaphism AKA The Boats

Ancient history is fantastic, partly because we can’t verify much of it, so we are left with a massive amount of second-hand knowledge and terrifying tales from the past. Almost all of the ancient civilizations that we study from the past had their version of both corporal and capital punishment. Ancient cultures were twisted and used what was at their disposal to….dispose of their undesirables. The Persians were the dominant power of the Middle East around the birth of Christ and reached the height of their power out of a mixture of brilliant military conquests and intelligent, diplomatic deals. But, when the Persians reached a certain point with individuals, they had quite the unique form of execution, and it is arguably in the top five of the worst ways to die in world history, scaphism.

If a person was condemned to death in the Persian Empire, the evilest and terrible form of execution was scaphism, also known as “The Boats.” The condemned man was placed in a hollowed out tree stump; they were then force-fed milk and honey until the person could not hold anymore. They were fed so much milk and honey that they shit themselves uncontrollably. Once the pooping began, the condemned was placed in a boat with no oars and the person laid in the ship, crapping themselves constantly and baking in the sun. The person would then be slowly, but surely, eaten alive by vermin, flies and other terrible insects. It could take upwards of a week for the person to die in this horrible, shit-filled death.

Published by TheOddPast by Matthew A. Perry

Writer, teacher, broadcaster, and podcaster from West Virginia. I write about and discuss the wacky and weird side of history on my website and my podcast "The Odd Past Podcast" available everywhere

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